The Winter Mileage Decline

In November I ran two half marathons, one of which was an awesome PR. I had a couple shorter runs on the calendar for the rest of the year–a Turkey Trot and the Baltimore Celtic Solstice 5-miler to be exact–so nothing that required me to really keep up my mileage. Like every year before, I (still) have all intentions of doing more strength training this winter while maintaining a base. The problem is that I’m not positive I know what mileage counts as a “base” nor do I know yet what to try and maintain as I haven’t nailed down my 2014 race plans yet. And so, I have fallen into the trap of the winter mileage decline.

My weekly mileage in December peaked at 19 miles and my regular 3-4 runs per week are hovering in the 3-5 mile range. For the most part I’ve maintained the speed I worked all summer to develop but today when I went for a longer run, 6.66 miles, I felt the frustration of not having put in longer distances over the past month or so. I feel like this happens every year. In my head, I am adamant about keeping my fitness and training going throughout the winter, but after the last long race, I unintentionally taper. Big time. The shorter runs definitely work better with the hectic holiday schedule and inevitably colder winter weather but at the same time, it’s the long runs that keep me sane and motivated and really give me a sense of accomplishment.

And now that I’ve complained about something I have complete control over, I will work to refocus and regain control on my winter running. What I mapped out in my head today is enough to give me distance satisfaction, help slowly rebuild a distance base and allow me to do my much sought after strength work. I plan to stick with running 3 times a week (plus one day of cross-training and one day of strength training for a total of 5 work-out days per week) and use the following distance formula:

  • January: 3, 5, 7 mile runs
  • February: 4, 6, 8 mile runs
  • March: 5, 7, 10 mile runs

That mini-schedule should get me where I’d like to be from a running standpoint and will also give me the flexibility to add in training elements depending on what races I target. With three runs a week, one of which is a long run, the others can easily be speedwork, tempos or hills.

I’m hoping this will do the trick to help me push through the winter mileage decline trap. How do you deal?

2 thoughts on “The Winter Mileage Decline

  1. Jim Aniol

    In the Green Bay WI area we are lucky to have great marathon training program for the May Cellcom marathon that kicks off in January so we have no excuses to stop training. Add to that two great running clubs, snowshoe running and cross country skiing, and we are ready to go in the spring.

    1. Natalie Post author

      Jim, thanks for sharing your winter strategy! Targeting a spring marathon makes a ton of sense. Maybe I’ll aim for that instead of a fall marathon. You’ve got my wheels spinning!


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